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Give over (why do we ask you to keep giving?)

We collected coats as part of Mitzvah day, helping to wrap-up London this winter. We have asked you to bring in toys for Camp Simcha who distribute them to children in hospital. Now we are asking you to send in a coin or two each week as part of our weekly giving or tzedakah collection. Why do we keep asking you to give?

As a school we are committed to the idea of a world built on kindness, and there are certainly lots of people in the world in need of our generosity, however our focus on giving goes deeper than kindness to others.

Hebrew words commonly have a root which helps to unpack their meaning. Tzedakah, the Hebrew word which is used for giving or charity, comes from the root word tzedek meaning justice. In the book of D'varim (Deuteronomy), we are told 'tzedek, tzedek tirdoff...' – 'justice, justice you should pursue'. In a Jewish world view tzedakah, the act of giving to those in need, is an active pursuit of a fairer society. So giving to others can be an act of kindness and at the same time an act of social justice.

However I think there is a third, internal dimension here, which is about realising potential. We explicitly ask children to be involved in the collections and acts of tzedakah we do, even though they haven't earned the money or bought the goods we are asking you to share with others. The act of giving to others changes our experience of the world and, over time, has the power to transform who we are as individuals. Giving is as much about our own humanity as it is about helping those in need. By giving we become more able to see our own significance in the world. We are not only able to make a difference, but we (and our children) are also able to realise the potential to do good in our lives. Realising our potential isn't easy. We need opportunities in which we can make a difference in order to become the people we have the potential to be. Every time we do an act to help others we are taking another step to realising our own potential for good in the world. By helping others, in truth we often make more of a difference to ourselves. Doing good, taking part in acts of tzedakah, helps us to become better people and at the same time to create a more just world, a world built on kindness.

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